Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I was definitely super-imposed onto the crazy, hilly Franciscan melange that lies beneath the surface in San Francisco. I was there a long time, but somehow never quite belonged. I tried, and I really loved almost all my time on the Barbary Coast, because of the people mostly. But my feet were never at home on that land, not even on Bernal Hill where I walked nearly every day after moving to that neighborhood. (In the Reyaverse, Bernal Hill is the back of a lion. I used to almost sneak up there, go around and tip toe off, hoping the cat wouldn't wake up and devour me.) Hmm.

It's on my mind because this morning, after a night of crazy dreams, the Voice in the Shower at last responded to a question I've asked a million times. The question is, Why DC? Why am I here? 

If you met me, I wonder if you'd think, Oh. She's so DC. Would you? I kind of doubt it.

The answer I "heard" this morning was, You were not photoshopped into the landscape here. You were part of the original image.

That is really interesting. Original such as before the brainiacs, before the Civil War, before the founding fathers, prior to the arrival of the Europeans? Before the Indians? Before photosynthesis when all the continents were part of Pangaia? Seriously, what is the original image?

I do have a powerful connection and relationship with the land here, even the parts I don't like, such as August, or the fact that there are so many bugs and rats. I join the dance of the landscape here. I join in. I'm thinking that's what the Voice meant by saying I was part of the original image. But it would be cool to remember a past lifetime or something. Or to open to a layer of meaning not visible just yet. I'm keeping my mind open.

Sometimes I initially think what the Voice says is really powerful, but later realize it's just stupid. But not this thing. This is worthy of contemplation. What do you think?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Diamond Tales, part II

It still seems like Jake's reflection should accompany mine.

When I took the diamond to the jeweler's to have it reset, the salesperson checked it out carefully through a loupe. He said, "Oh - this is an old family piece?" I don't remember how I responded but it isn't the first time I've heard something like that. It is cut in what they call old European style and has one facet that was only popular during the 1920s. I've been told it could be recut to heighten the sparkle, but really if you could see this thing - it is crazy sparkly. Crazy.

The diamond came from the engagement ring of a woman who was happily married for 60 years. A dear friend and neighbor of my ex husband had inherited the ring. When we got engaged, he mentioned the stone to my ex, who bargained for it and eventually bought it at a greatly reduced price. The bargaining put a strain on their friendship. Oh my ex!

The thing is, I didn't want a diamond. I was clear about that with my ex. He really didn't care what I wanted. He wanted the diamond, so that is what I got. Well, ok then. I loved the art deco setting of the original ring. I thought it would be wonderful to simply have the ring sized and wear it as it was worn by the happily married woman for all those decades.

But no, my ex husband didn't like the setting. He designed a ring that was so thick, so heavy with yellow gold that it dwarfed the diamond. It's not the biggest diamond ever, but it's almost two carats, so it's not exactly dainty. It takes a lot of gold to make that thing look small but that's what he wanted, and that's what I got, no matter how I felt about it. Once it was set in its heavy lockdown of yellow gold, he never touched the ring again. He was almost superstitious about it. He would recoil when he saw it on my finger and begged me not to wear it on the subway. For heaven's sake.

The feng shui of my marriage, oh my.

After we were divorced, I put the ring in a box and ignored it. A few years later during the bling era, I had it extracted from the gold setting and made into an earring. It was too big to be an earring, really, but that was during the 90s. The bigger, the better. It felt extremely liberating to have the diamond released from its prison of gold. I loved wearing the earring and felt it brought clarity to my thoughts and dreams. But when bling was no longer the thing, I again put it into a box.

The decision recently to have it reset came out of the nowhere. They did a beautiful job. Though still not nearly as beautiful as it was in its original art deco setting, it is truly gorgeous.

So you see I am and have been forming a relationship with that stone for a long time. It is becoming an old family piece.

I put it in a dish with sea salt yesterday, to see if I could cleanse the bad juju from it. My cough worsened as soon as I took it off - which is kind of strange. Last night I went to check on it. My sense is that the diamond purified the salt! How is that possible? But it seems to have helped the salt rather than the other way around. Any connection it has to my miserable marriage is only in my head and heart, not in the diamond.

I gargled with warm salt water made with the purified salt after which the cough receded and I got a good night's sleep.

I'll wear the diamond today for sure. All my whinging about my ex doesn't help anything and no longer has anything to do with the beautiful, colorful, sparkly, quirky art deco era diamond. I am reclaiming it. Onwards and upwards, and: shalom.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cough it up

His shirt says EVERYONE IS ENTITLED to my opinion. Ha!

When I caught the cold or flu that was going around a couple of weeks ago, people who had had it told me I would cough for weeks. I thought, Them, maybe. Not me. 

But I was wrong. It was not a pleasant virus and the cough has lingered even though I've been working on it from every angle. I've taken a dispersing tincture and received acupuncture, I've gargled with warm salt water, also with warm lemon water (not together). I've extended my practice of ohmming and chanting in the mornings, and I've used shamanic extraction techniques to remove the energy from my throat.

I've gently stroked the lymph glands under my jaw and had plenty of water. I've confided in my sisters - things I usually would not say to anyone. I'm trying to get what remains in there OUT and on its way.

All that, yet I'm still coughing, just like others who had the same illness.

However you can not fault me for my creativity around it. Healing, for me, is a performance art that can take place on several levels. I assume eventually the cough will subside no matter what I do, so I might as well be creative. Today's technique is hot tea plus I decided to go back on the modern medical allergy meds that worked so well for me last spring. I'm throwing everything at this tenacious cough!

In the spirit of speaking what I would usually keep to myself, a little story. I decided recently to get the diamond that was in my wedding ring re-set so I could wear it as a necklace. I just got it back from the jeweler's recently. The setting is beautiful and I've been enjoying the quirky stone quite a bit. You can't plan for this next part. I received a short letter from my ex husband yesterday. The first paragraph was about his 60th birthday, how hard that was for him, and that his dog died a couple of years ago. In the second paragraph he said that for his relationship, he will now only contact me in case of serious illness. I am to do the same thing. I haven't heard from him since before I moved to the chateau, so at least three years. The letter is out of the blue. So weird.

As if I want anything different! For heaven's sake. He is still trying to control my behavior, across time and 3,000 miles. Unbelievable!

Oh - that last cough was definitely one of those ahem type coughs, as when one person behaves like an ass after which someone else clears their throat.

The letter went directly into recycling. I didn't even bring it inside the chateau. Today I'm thinking, is it helping or hurting to wear that diamond around my neck? Diamonds are supposed to be the ultimate stone for clearing energy, hence it should be helping, but it is still and forever in my mind and heart a symbol of my horrid marriage, so maybe I should take it off until the cough dissipates. What do you think?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A thing of beauty - now that the job is complete!

Here ye here ye, the sidewalk is done!

And may I say, it is truly magnificent. Beautiful! The guys who did it are artists, perfectionists. I watched them through my window, carefully and mindfully engaged throughout the process. Even during clean up, they were fastidious. I would recommend them to anyone.

I spent a lot of time out there yesterday. I watered the garden thoroughly and spent a considerable amount of time talking to the plants, clucking my tongue in sympathy about all they went through last week. They didn't like it, they surely did not.

Also of course I sanctified the new walk by saging thoroughly. I used to be embarrassed about this kind of behavior, but everyone who knows me understands my shamanic lifestyle and those who don't have seen people do much weirder things on the streets of DC than my shamanic dancing, burning sage in one hand, a feather in the other, a look of reverence on my face.

I sat on the bench on the terrace, and on the front steps. I arranged and re-arranged my potted flowers, trying to get the feng shui just right. The best part was the feeling of peace and harmony in the wake of the construction.

I am so easily rattled. For heaven's sake.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nature Girl

Before my first witch camp, like many urban creatures, I spent most of my time indoors. My father hated "nature" (whatever that means) hence we never, not ever, took a walk or picnicked. Instead we were taken to the bowling alley where there weren't even any windows. As kids we spent time outdoors with our friends, but I was a fearful child who preferred to stay inside, quietly reading. I was a different person back then!

I remember coming back from witch camp. Oh man, the re-entry was a bitch for so many reasons, including the fact that all of a sudden it felt very weird to stay indoors all the time. Though my habits began to change at that time, it wasn't really until Jake came into my life that I made it a practice to spend as much time as possible out of doors. It wasn't until Jake that I realized how important it is for me - a shaman! - to connect with Brother Sun, etc. That dog was one of the greatest teachers I've ever had.

When Jake died, I wondered if I would retreat to the world of inside spaces, but I didn't. Not only do I walk every day, but I also like to sit out in front of the chateau between clients. It's calming and grounding to sip the air, gaze at the clouds, and such. When I take continuing education courses or have some other reason I need to stay mostly indoors all day, I get a little stir crazy. I feel disoriented when cut off from the sky, trees, birds and weather.

It's a beautiful day in DC today. I got out for a nice walk, so I'm good, but the men are still working on the sidewalk, hence I don't have the option of sitting out there, enjoying today's cool, dry air and sweet temperatures. What a shame.

Oh well, I'll get over it. They'll finish someday, yes? Please say yes.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Little Things

It's the little things that make me happy, also the little things that annoy the hell out of me. For the big things, both harrowing and wonderful, I rise to the occasion in a way that makes the annoyance or simple joys more difficult to access.

Today, all I can do is laugh.

Or - I could work myself into a frenzy, I guess. I do less of that in general these days, thank God. It's tempting to complain, but I think I'll try to keep a sense of humor instead.

You see, I am a literalist. If someone says the sidewalk will be replaced over the weekend of July 19th, possibly through Monday, I take that as the solemn truth. At least I took it as the solemn truth, cleared my schedule so as to give wide berth to the workers in front of the house and out of consideration to clients who would have a rather hard time coming up the alley, through the dental office and down the basement stairs to my domain.

But of course as it turned out, the work was not completed over the weekend. Actually they didn't work Saturday or Sunday at all. Today they're working. Today - a day when I rescheduled many of my clients, assuring each of them the work would be completed - they are putting down the flagstones right outside my window. There is sawing, and hammering, clouds of concrete dust flying around.


It'll be ok - the clients coming this afternoon won't mind the circuitous route to the treatment space, and as for the sawing and hammering, I plan to crank up the massage music to eleven, if necessary, to drown out the noise. Perhaps it won't be as idyllic a situation as it usually is, but I'm determined to go on about my business because I can't keep canceling and/or shuffling people around. It's discouraging for them - for me, too.

For heaven's sake. If this is the worst thing to happen to me this year, I should be nothing but grateful!
Yes? I say yes.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A complicated, unusual day

The chateau

There are some men out in front of the chateau, preparing the place where the old sidewalk was, for the concrete that will become the new sidewalk later today. I'll be seeing clients which could be interesting, especially since they will have to come and go through the dentist's office upstairs, via the back door of the chateau. Today will be an interesting lesson in feng shui.

Though I will focus on my clients, of course, for much of the day my mind and heart will be elsewhere.  My brand new grand nephew, only a few days old, must undergo heart surgery for a faulty valve. I feel more than anything for his parents who are both beautiful, tender, wonderful people.

It's a mythic day for my entire family. I'm feeling the durable heart connections among us. The energy is crackling with love and we're texting frequently, to stay in touch. Meanwhile outside the workers are sawing and hammering, smoothing the dirt and rocks that will soon be buried in concrete.

It is a very weird day!

Of course I have no idea how the surgery will go - no one does, not even the surgeons. I've had clients with kids who needed heart surgery as infants. Their kids came through it well, healed completely and are perfectly fine now. Surgery is incredible these days, more refined even than just a few years ago. I feel confident that they will bring their magic to this.

As for the baby, I have tried to tune in. As a shaman I have offered to mediate, if necessary, between the worlds of ancestors and the soul of the baby. Heavy duty negotiations are going on at the moment, for sure. Will he stay or will he go? This is being discussed, between the worlds.

However I am not needed, or so it seems, when I offer. I think the karmic piece of this is about clearing something from his mother's family line, not my side of the family. Hence I will butt out, psychically.

But my heart is with that tiny heart, and with the anxiously beating hearts of my beloved nephew and his wife. And my sister, the grandmother. Whatever happens, it is a gift and blessing to feel the durability of heart connections. A real blessing.


From Thomas Cole's series, the Voyage of Life. This is the birth picture.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I have questions

I'm beginning to lose interest in The Cosmic Serpent, the book I mentioned yesterday. He writes at some length about stuff I find uninteresting, such as the way he organizes his files - which - I could give a rat's ass about. Should I care? Why did he include it in the book? To make himself seem more rational? It's odd, I think.

I liked the reindeer, spirits and people book better. That, too, was written by an anthropologist, but in the case of the reindeer book, he wrote about the people, their myths and history, rather than about himself. It makes a difference.

Tonight will be, I think, movie night. Forget the reindeer, forget Peruvian shamans high on plant based hallucinogens. Forget wondering why shamanism is so hard for modern western civilized people to grasp (or, wondering why it's so clear to me). I might let go of every noble pursuit and instead: veg out.

Tomorrow I'm seeing clients, hence will not have a lot of time to read. I love studying and learning so much, but enough is enough, hey?

Friday, July 19, 2013

The juice of life

I'm reading The Cosmic Serpent, by Jeremy Narby. He is an anthropologist who spent time in Peru ingesting serious hallucinogenic plant concoctions with the people who practice shamanism there. The book was published at the end of the last millennium. I've heard about it but felt no need to read it because I figured most of it would be devoted to trying to prove shamanism is real. I already know it's real, oh man do I ever.

Still, it's hot out - unbearably hot today and tomorrow, they say - and I have an easy weekend because the front sidewalk is being replaced at the chateau, making access to and from the house a little bit tricky. I have a lot of clients who are not exactly nimble on their feet due to many different reasons. I don't want them to have to traverse the rocky path that will soon be replaced by a beautiful new flagstone sidewalk, hence I kept my work schedule very light.

I'll have some time on my hands, so why not read about the Peruvian shamans? I've read about Balinese shamans, in David Abram's great Spell of the Sensuous. I loved all the Carlos Castaneda books, once upon a time. Recently I read The Reindeer People: Living with animals and spirits in Siberia, by Piers Vitebsky. Most fascinating to me was the book Riding Windhorses, by Sarangerel Odigan, may her spirit fly high. That book was about Mongolian shamanism. Please imagine my jaw dropping and my eyebrows rising when I read that one ... because ... the cosmology of Mongolian shamanism matches the cosmology of the Reyaverse to an almost alarming degree.

I've said it before - that I feel sad about how impoverished my society is, having stripped itself of the mystical as much as possible. I think that's why people become hoarders, to try to fill the empty internal space where wonder, mystery and spirituality is meant to reside.

Without spirit, medicine becomes nothing more than mechanics. We are not machines. We are complicated! I'm not surprised that what we think of as health care is so flawed and dehumanizing. How could it not be? It has no soul.

We reduce relationships to psychology, turning away from the spiritual/karmic aspects that are always a part of family, friendship and marriage. Relationships are not flat, they do not wholly reflect the way we grew up. There is something juicy in relationships that can not be described through psychology.

Those who do not believe in an ensouled world find it easy to think fracking is a good idea, or strip mining, or clear cutting. Disregarding the spirit makes us small and twisted, weak and greedy. It's not good for us, for sure.

We believe in money. We believe in safety. We think there's a clear cut "reality" that can be explained rationally. This is an impoverished, deflated, uninteresting, two dimensional world, y'all. It surely is.

This is what I'm thinking about, reading this book. I want to say, "Jeremy - of course the plants have spirits - souls. Of course those souls are willing to teach us." I want to tell him he has spirit guides and voices in the shower and the wisdom of the ancestors just waiting for him to listen, to open to them. He's Swiss. I would ask the Alps to teach me, if I were he. I would ask the Soul of Snow to enlighten me. Operators are standing by!

I am a shaman. I don't need proof.

We're so stingy about opening our minds and hearts. What is the danger we imagine? It's tragic.

But I'm enjoying the book nevertheless.

Just for the record, I would never ingest tobacco or ayahuasca. No way! I've had my hallucinogenic experiences, way back when. Jeremy doesn't think LSD is a real hallucinogen. Ahem! I beg to differ!

Go ahead and deny the mystery of the world if you like. Does it make you feel safe? Does it make you feel sane? I hope so!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

The livin' is easy

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m., some guys will show up at the chateau with jack hammers and who knows what other kinds of tools. The sidewalk in front of the house is about to be replaced. The first step - of course - is the tearing up of the old sidewalk.

By the time the burly men arrive, I will likely have already beat a hasty retreat since the sound of jackhammers is not exactly soothing. My plan is to hang out at Peregrine Espresso for awhile, then sneak down to the National Gallery of Art before it get too beastly outside. There I believe I will spend most of the day.

I'll meet a friend for an early lunch, take in some of the art, of course. I'm also bringing a book of poetry and another book - and the New Yorker, too - to keep myself amused until it seems safe to venture home.

I love the National Gallery because you can see art, have lunch, shop but also find a comfortable spot on the upholstery to read, rest and contemplate the nature of things. It is a huge institution, a perfect biosphere for a hideous-hot summer day during which burly men break up the sidewalk. All will be cool and calm at the NGA - I hope!

Replacing the sidewalk is never a bad idea, especially when it is a potential liability. Who wants to scrape a knee or twist an ankle on the way in or out of the dentist's office? Or before or after massage therapy, for that matter? The new sidewalk will create a smooth and graceful flow of energy in and out of the chateau. The comings and goings of beings from this building will become even lovelier than they already are. The chateau is a beautiful house. This will be all for the better.

However in the meantime there will be no access in or out of the front of the house. I'll be using the back door - something that never happens. I kind of look forward to it. It's always good to shake up routines, just to see what that brings to the surface. Shake shake it. Why not?

Also of course I won't be working much - I'll see a couple of people who are so familiar it's ok for them to slip in the back way - and I'm doing an outcall to a client who is in the hospital, also a house call to do a tarot reading. I won't be twiddling my thumbs but it will not be business as usual for sure.

I'm going to do a lot of reading, watch some of the movies I didn't have time for when I was sick, and rest - what a concept!

I am loving this summer! May the good times continue. Shalom.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I am digging the summer of 2013. It hasn't been hellishly hot, we've had abundant rain, and even now in mid-July, most days there has been a nice breeze. Though I wouldn't say it's exactly fun being outside, it isn't torture like it can be - and probably will be - come August.

My health is good following last week's Ailment. No one is stalking me, and my clothes are not mildewing before my very eyes. Business is brisk. And there is domestic harmony among all the beings who live in the chateau, including the ghosts. Even the horse ghosts out back in the carriage house are content.

This is one of those moments when harmony prevails. I am relishing this summer, paying close attention to my many blessings.

Of course it can't last forever because nothing lasts forever. Nothing even lasts, let alone forever.

And, too, it could all change tomorrow. But for now, for today, right now, right here, life is good and I am grateful. I am content. Shalom.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Onwards and upwards

My parents worked vigorously, and may I say courageously, for Civil Rights during the 1960s. People knew where they stood; it's not like my parents were secretive about their political views.

Our house was egged, we received threatening anonymous phone calls and horrible anonymous letters containing the most racist crap you can imagine. It was foul. I was disinvited to a friend's slumber party because my parents were "nigger lovers." The friend's mother explained the disinvite to her fourth grade daughter using those words. Can you imagine? Seriously. Kansas City was hardly an enlightened city at that time.

It was uncomfortable for me. I tried to understand. I read about slavery, the Civil War and such. But growing up in a 100% white suburb of Kansas City in the late fifties and early sixties, I had hardly ever even seen a black person. I could not take in the importance of my parents' commitment.

I remember the first black students at my high school. They seemed exotic, like foreign exchange students. I thought it was cool when my sister dated one of the black kids. It was so daring of her. I think his name was Charlie.

That was a long time ago now. And though things have definitely taken a turn for the better - I mean, we have a second term black president - we still have far to go.

Of course I'm writing this because of the decision in the Trayvon Martin case. Friends who know more about these things than I do say the case was hardly air-tight, and that the bigger problem is Florida's crappy laws. I feel so sad for the Martins. I have no idea what instructions the jurors were given or how the evidence was presented. I don't know how I would have voted, if I'd been on that jury - which would never have happened, btw.

I feel sad and yet curious, too. I think this is another one in the series of current events that makes me say, over and over, that this time feels just like the 60s. This is a big wake up call. I think the verdict has cranked up the Civil Rights movement again. It's time to evolve. We can do it.

The video below is from South Pacific. The film was released in 1949. They are singing about prejudice. The problem in the movie is that the young man has fallen in love with a Balinese woman. Everyone knows it will never work out for the two of them to be together. The French guy has kids by a Balinese woman, a situation so abhorrent that Nellie Forbush tries to wash him out of her hair. I mean, a blond woman marrying a French man with Indonesian children? Unthinkable at that time.

Can you imagine that kind of thinking today? Neither can I.

We open to the better way, we humans - we surely do. Not as quickly as some would like, of course. We are impatient. But it is happening. I'm old enough to remember how it was in the American midwest during the 1960s. I remember this energy of upheaval, awakening and subsequent change.

Time for the next turn of the spiral of evolution. May it be so. Let's go!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Comings and Goings

In a small town like Capitol Hill, word gets around fast - Laurie has died. She was a grade school art teacher, glass artist, founding member of The Corner Store and the Hill Havurah. She was part of the soul of Capitol Hill and though she suffered terribly from the cancer, I'm still sad she is gone.

She was also a client. Which explains why I'm feeling kind of blue this evening.

A lingering cough this morning was all that remained of the Ailment from last week. But I had dinner at the Matchbox bar tonight, noticed as I left that every remnant of congestion and urge to cough had disappeared. That place is a healing mecca for me.

The point of this being, life goes on. People are born, they die. In between, life goes on.

And so now to the work of grieving Laurie - with the rest of my community - and to the week ahead.

Life might be long, but it also might be cut short. We can not know and no one can predict. All those things you hear over and over - about seizing the moment because you never know what's ahead? Every one of those aphorisms is absolutely true.

Carpe diem, y'all - before it's too late!

Friday, July 12, 2013

It's good to be back.

I've been on a journey to the underworld. That's what the flu feels like to me. The chills and fever, the throbbing sinuses and sore throat, the muscle pain, also the inability to think straight in the "real" world - yeah. The flu is a trip to the underworld, at least in the Reyaverse.

In the sickness underworld, my immune system fought valiantly and skillfully, dispatching the attacking virus (or whatever it was). I tossed and turned, dozed off, woke up with a start a few times, blew my nose, shivered and shook, had some crazy dreams. You know. This morning it came to me that shamans, when journeying and fighting demons, dance a similar dance. It's interesting to think about.

A cousin of mine, with whom I'm acquainted only on Facebook, is a political rabble rouser. She said this morning that to wage peace, we can not be peaceful. Hmmm. The term wage peace really bothers me. It's clever, but what is the meaning underneath the words?

But the rest of what she said makes some sense at least in terms of human immunity. We are not peaceful beings. Achieving homeostasis involves battling, violence, the killing of viruses and bacteria. White blood cells gives their lives every day to keep us alive. When sick, we wage war internally.

Even me, the biggest pacifist you have ever met, wages war internally. At least I did yesterday.

I'm sure my cousin was not referring to human immunity when she said that. I think what she meant is that she wishes to wage justice by being very vocal, obstreperous even or maybe she believes as many do that getting out in the streets and causing trouble will help. Does it? You tell me.

I don't believe peace has anything to do with what she said, but it sounds nice, doesn't it?

Today my body is cleaning up in the aftermath of the battle, hence nose blowing and coughing, but just to move stuff around. The battle is over. The fever is gone and the illness is vanquished. Thank god for my immune system. Following the internal war-mongering, I'm feeling very peaceful. I'm waging productivity right now, washing clothes and used teacups, picking up the empty kleenex boxes and such. The war is over. Yay!

Peace is good. I like peace. Shalom.

Detail from one of Thomas Cole's paintings of the Voyage of Life.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Be the elder

What does it mean to be an elder? I'm thinking about it after the Voice in the Shower yesterday said BE the elder. BE was emphasized. Hmmm.

I didn't have a lot of time to contemplate because I had clients all day yesterday. As it turned out I had to work at the top of my form all day.

There was no such thing as a clear-cut session yesterday. I apply myself to the situation at hand, of course - no matter what's happening. I'm grateful that for many of my clients, a session of massage is nothing more than an hour of peace on the table, or a remedy for a stiff neck or whatever. But yesterday all my clients were facing extraordinary situations that involved their bodies, minds and spirits. I was cut no slack as a healer yesterday.

It was a great day of work! Satisfying. At the end of the day I was tired - yes - but in such a good way. It wasn't the fatigue that comes from frustration or failure, or after boredom - no, it was the happy fatigue that follows good work.

Is that what it means to BE the elder? That I can step up to the plate as it were, address these complicated sessions capably is the result of years of study, practice and experience. No way I could have done yesterday's work when I was forty, for instance. I still had so much to learn then. I have no doubt there is yet still so much to learn.

I'll be thinking about it for awhile. It's interesting.

One thing that came to me this morning while I was allegedly meditating is that part of BEING the elder involves becoming even closer to the ancestors than I already am. I have been listening assiduously to my ancestors of blood, spirit and karma lately - more so than usual.

Below is a pic of the ghostly throne I inadvertently created the night before last. I draped the sheet over the rocking chair because it wasn't quite dry. Then I sat across from it on the couch, looked up and realized what I had created - a place at the table (as it were) for the ancestors.

May the ancestors come closer, may I listen carefully with respect and love. I will remember and honor them. In exchange, I believe they will help me BE an elder. This is today's theory.


Monday, July 8, 2013

What came before this

Before this blog, I had another blog for three years. It was just like this blog, also quite different. It was very personal. During that time I was working through something - my departure from the spiritual communities I had been a part of for so long in San Francisco. It was a difficult divorce, full of rancor on all sides. I was appalled, waking up to what our magic had become, they were furious with me for leaving and writing publicly about it. It was not pretty. After I started this blog, I slowly took down everything I'd written on The Gold Poppy. It was therapeutic and I'm glad none of those essays is available online anymore.

Ah the early days of blogging. It was like the wild west. No one knew for awhile what was appropriate to write about. Mistakes were made, blog posts were taken down. People took offense, boundaries were breached, all of us blundered about content in the early years. Many of us remained anonymous on our blogs because that was before Facebook. It was a different world in which the dream of privacy still held sway.

Before I knew about weblogging, I wrote my essays and emailed them to a listserve. I felt about those posts just like I do about blogging now - if people want to read them, they should, but if they aren't interested, they shouldn't bother. I love the liberation of self expression with no strings attached.

Good god I would never email essays to a listserve now! That would seem invasive because email now is a much more formal way of connecting than blogging or Facebooking or texting. But at the time it was the only technology available for my favorite self expression. At the time it wasn't inappropriate.

Before email what I did was rent ad space in a weekly San Francisco newspaper. It was a very small ad space - the size of a yearbook picture. It wasn't cheap, but well worth the money because I never had to submit what was published to editors. I drew cartoons, or filled the box with text - whatever I was in a mood to do. Sometimes I did a series that built from one week to the next, other times my "ads" had random themes. Once I left it blank - of course! How predictable. But I enjoyed the expression. At that time in the 1980s I was way into Keith Haring and Jean Basquiat and the other graffiti artists. I loved the way they transformed public spaces into their own art galleries. By buying ad space in the SF Weekly, I was not curated, not edited - just like Jean Basquiat in the subway. Also just like here on this blog.

You see I have always been a blogger, awaiting the technology.

For a long time, the blog world was the place where I engaged in relationship over the internet. I had a long blog roll on the side of the page. But these days I do my every day relating on Facebook. My posts here are offerings. If there are comments, I love that, but if there aren't, I'm far less concerned than I once would have been. I am very relational on Facebook - it works well for me. I no longer need to be as relational here.

And though I still read many blogs, I rarely comment. For me the blogosphere has become more like literature. At the end of an essay in the New Yorker, there is no way to comment or "like" what has been written. I read posts differently than I did even a few years ago. I take them in, rather than figuring out how to respond to them.

Clearly I take blogging more seriously than I used to. I watch it evolve with great interest. As it changes, the way I participate shifts. That's why I removed the blog roll from the page recently. Many of the blogs that were listed are either defunct or no longer public, or the blogger rarely posts. It was time to make a clean start.

I love blogging. I love non-curated, unedited artistic expression - I always have. Long live our human urge to express artfully, to share our expressions even when they are not Great Art. It is one of our best qualities, if you ask me. It surely is.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

I am what I eat

I am an ongoing science experiment. For instance, there's always something I'm not eating, also something I'm enthusiastically eating. I'm always trying to find balance for my dodgy (since I was a colicky baby) stomach.

A couple of weeks ago I cleaned up my act (again) - cut out coffee, wheat, and cheese. I know from experience I do better when I live on a diet of meat, fish or chicken, with fruit and vegetables. I know that but - wheat is so easy to eat. I'll be doing really well, then I have a bite of someone's scone. A few days later I have a bagel for lunch, probably with a schmear, then next thing you know I'm eating cupcakes and buying baguettes - and feeling like crap. Eventually I stop, and feel better. Then - a bite of someone's scone, etc. It's a cycle.

Today I ate wheat in the form of bluebucks (blueberry buckwheat pancakes). A friend suggested I sit down at the Market Lunch counter at Eastern Market on a Sunday morning, see why all those people wait in line for the blueberry pancakes every weekend. I'm always mystified - a pancake is a pancake, yes? But he was right that I should try the pancakes to see for myself if they're worth waiting in a terribly long line to get. I'll admit - they were really good.

One fourth of 3 pancakes equals approximately one pancake, yes? Also, that's the Eastern Market skylight reflected in the syrup. 
Though I only ate one of the pancakes, the wheat immediately had its evil effect on me. As I get older I become more determined than ever to return to eating foods that agree with me in the aftermath of falling off the dietary wagon. As we age, the life force becomes thinner within us, more porous. We older folks have to be more careful with ourselves. At least I do.

As long as I'm confessing I might as well admit that wheat has not been my only transgression. I drank a cup of coffee the other day, too, just to see. Of all the forbidden foods, coffee is the worst for me. I am very sensitive to it.

Do you hear the tiny violins playing for me? Poooooor little Reya, forced to eat so beautifully. Do you feel sorry for me? Me neither!

To your health! There's an expression for that in many languages. All languages? Below is how it looks in Yiddish.

צו דיין געזונט

Pitcher plants in the yard of a crazy Capitol Hill gardener. Crazy great I mean. I peeked inside one of these, saw a spider and what I think was a fly. Creepy cool.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

From last year's ridiculous to this year's sublime

Last summer was unrelenting from May until Thanksgiving. It was hot, humid and the air was way more toxic than usual because we had insufficient rain.

Likewise it was unrelenting in terms of stress factors for yours truly. Being stalked was by far the most nerve wracking thing about last summer. I was always looking over my shoulder. It was not pleasant.

There were traumas I chose to undertake, like getting my tattoo, like walking through the Holocaust Museum the very next day. There were inadvertent traumas, too, such as when my clothes mildewed and had to be thrown out. All my clothes. Everything.


It was a hard summer.

Recently I realized that in the midst of the sturm und drang of last summer, I let go of some of my devotional behaviors. I didn't mean to - it just happened. I didn't give up prayer, meditation or ohmming - no - my morning practice is a foundation on which I can rely for whatever form of stability I believe myself to have.

But I let lapse a number of devotional behaviors that bring me great pleasure, that cultivate joie de vivre. An example: I stopped dancing for fun. I didn't do it on purpose. I couldn't muster the energy, or didn't muster the energy. Or I couldn't access the joy that dancing brings to me, so I didn't bother. None of this was conscious. I didn't even notice I had stopped dancing until I attended the Folklife Festival last weekend where I danced my ass off.

Behaviors are habitual, therefore should be examined now and again. I broke the no dancing habit last weekend. I have danced to music for fun every day since then. Yes! This morning I broke the habit of thinking it's too hot to take a really good walk. Yes it was hot but I have developed multiple strategies over the years. I'm not at all averse to pouring a bottle of cold water over my head, when needed, and I'm great at dodging from tree shade pool to tree shade pool.

I know how to duck into an air conditioned museum when I need to cool off a little bit. Somehow last summer with all those Code Orange days, I couldn't take the heat, I couldn't force myself to take the long walks that keep me sane and healthy. But this summer - so far - I can! It's a wonder.

A sweaty walk is a great thing. I forgot, I surely did. Also forgotten until today is the cool glass of water after a summer walk, followed by the cool shower. I forgot about being willing to sweat, in all the trauma of last summer, that important aspect of summer walks slipped out of my mind. I forgot about the cool glass of water, the cool shower, the feeling of happiness and pleasure in being alive and healthy at this moment in time/space.

This summer is a rebirth for me on many levels. I'm dancing, I'm walking and sweating, drinking and bathing in cool water, popping in and out of my favorite locations again. This is a very good sign.

Life is good and I am grateful. Shalom.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Time to swelter, y'all

The fourth was a lot of fun, as it has been for me ever since I moved to Capitol Hill. It's our summer feast of abundance, the secular summer solstice.

As usual I went down to the neighborhood parade. It gets bigger and fancier every year. I remember the first Barracks Row parade, not that many years ago. It was plain, even rag tag. I loved it. The parade is evolving, of course - like everything does.

I saw many neighbors and friends who had no qualms about walking out of the parade for a hug and hello. Cheerful! I saw several kids whose mothers I worked on while they were pregnant. Those kids are big now! Good lord.

After that I cooked for several hours, then shuttled my offerings to the house on Tennessee Avenue where we feasted, toasted, laughed and danced - at least Manuel and I danced.

I saw only the locals in Lincoln Park shooting off chintzy fireworks. I was tucked inside the well insulated chateau by the time the big fireworks took place. There was no anxious dog to try to soothe. I read my book about the reindeer herding people of Siberia for awhile, went to bed early. A perfect day.

As if in shamanic alignments with the secular solstice, today and for the foreseeable future, it's going to be hot and humid. Ah, summer in the swamp. It's brutal, but it's a part of the landscape here, and here is where I live. More than where I live, Washington DC has become my home.

Those kids - whose moms I worked on before they were born - those kids are BIG. Wow. I've been here a long time. My blood is the Potomac River, my bones are local granite. I am part of the landscape.

Onwards into the sweltering summer. Shalom.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy days

It was a wonderful weekend. I had a blast at the Folklife Festival Saturday, but Sunday, too was great. I worked on Sunday; it was satisfying. Afterwards I had dinner with friends at the Matchbox. I felt jolly and uplifted. What is not to love about such a weekend?

I was happy and clear headed and clear hearted all weekend. So clear and happy, in fact, that I completely forgot yesterday was the anniversary of Jake's death. I remembered this morning at last.

This is a sign of healing, it surely is. At last I am letting go of that damn dog. I'm not saying I don't miss him still and probably always but life goes on and time has softened that deep sadness. I am grateful.

Tomorrow and Wednesday I'll work a little but will also be planning and preparing for the traditional July 4th celebration with my old housemates and neighbors on Tennessee Avenue. I'm going to marinate some chicken for the grill, make a zucchini salad with almond pesto, a salad of watermelon, feta and mint and a fruit crisp of some sort.

John will make his world famous coleslaw. Actually it's not world famous, but it should be. He said he's also making a Jameson infused watermelon timbale. I have no idea what that means but I will steer clear of it. I feel a headache coming on even imagining such a thing.

The 4th is a big deal in Washington DC. It is a major feast day for my nears and dears on Tennessee Avenue. I look forward to it.

Onwards & upwards.